Jerry Zgoda missed the entire Kevin Garnett era, but he's back covering the Timberwolves after working the beat for their first four seasons two decades ago. In between, he covered a bit of everything: Gopher men's and women's basketball and NCAA athletics, golf, outdoor recreation, sports media and a little Vikings and Twins.

Back to work: Down 25 pounds, Love's fit and ready for season, big payday

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves management, Wolves players, Wolves news Updated: December 5, 2011 - 10:12 AM

Back from California after a summer away, Kevin Love worked out on his own at Target Center on Sunday morning and afterward showed off his new lean look.

He says he has lost as much as 25 pounds from a summer spent working out with a trainer.

"I wasn't really focused on losing weight," he said. "It just kinda shed off."

He entered the NBA three years ago weighing about 275 to 280 and now says he is somewhere between 240 and 245.

He said he now expects to have more stamina and be more nimble and able to run the floor better without losing any strength. He says his weight-lifting results prove he's stronger than he's ever been.

"I'm ready for the season," said Love, who's the second Timberwolf to arrive back in Minnesota after Anthony Randolph showed up at Target Center on Thursday. . "It has been a long off season. I'm hoping guys get in here quick, follow my lead and get back to work.

"I'm just looking forward to getting back to work and working with this organization to get better. This year, it definitely needs to happen."

He didn't say it, but you can also bet the weight loss will help his knees -- wrapped in ice after nearly every practice and game -- long term.

While his weight is down, his tax bracket soon could be way up.

Here's the story I wrote for Monday's paper and the web site that focuses on a possible contract extension he's eligible to sign in the coming weeks.

Most interesting from a conversation with media members on Sunday morning is the impression he believes he's worth -- and will be seeking -- a max contract.

He didn't say that in so many words, but his reaction to the new "Derrick Rose Rule" -- and the fact he's currently only eligible to receive a max contract worth 25 percent of his team's salary cap rather than 30 percent -- suggests he and his agent will be thinking big.

Perhaps much bigger than the Wolves are seeking.

He made it clear that he believes Rose "deserves every penny" of a new contract.

"It's awesome," he said. "It's very cool to have a rule named after you."

So what's your take?

Is he worth a deal that could pay him an average salary approaching $17 million or more?

Can he be the No. 1 piece on a title contender?

Can the Wolves afford to let him go even if he's not?

Would that be grossly overpaying him or simply the price of milk in today's NBA?

Much like the Wolves were faced with a franchise-defining decision whether to break the bank to sign a youngster named Kevin Garnett 14 years ago, the Wolves soon will have to decide whether the face of the franchise right now will become THE centerpiece worthy of such a deal.

If the Wolves don't sign Love to a contract extension in the coming weeks, he could become a restricted free agent next summer.

If someone offers him a max contract then, the Wolves simply could choose to match the offer then and keep him.

If Love decides not to sign an offer sheet with another team then, he could play the 2012-13 on a $6.1 million qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2013.

Love said all the right things on Sunday -- he loves Minnesota, he likes the changes the Wolves have made but he wants to see results -- but also seemed at peace when he basically said, maybe it will happen and maybe it won't.

He implied he's worth a max deal without directly saying it.

What would you if you were the Wolves?

Sign him now? And at what price?

Wait through this season and then retain the right to match any offers next season?

Entertain trade offers for him, and for who or what?

The interesting subplot in this negotiation:

Love's agent is Jeff Schwartz, who representing Al Jefferson when he was in this same situation four years ago.

Jefferson accepted a five-year, $65 million deal and Schwartz was none too happy that Jefferson left money on the table to re-sign with the team who traded Kevin Garnett for him.

Let's see if Schwatz compensates for that one by trying to win this one big.

On other topics:

* YahooSports reported Sunday that the Wolves are one of seven teams set to talk with free-agent guard Jamal Crawford by phone on Monday, the first day that teams can talk directly with players.

It also said the Wolves are one of five teams that are thinking about extending an offer sheet to restricted free-agent center DeAndre Jordan and said Sacramento, with $20 million to spend just to get to the minimum payroll threshold, has emerged as a favorite to sign free-agent Chuck Hayes, whom the Wolves have pursued.

The Wolves likely are long shots to sign either Crawford or Jordan, but the fact that they're in the discussions suggests the Wolves might not be as quiet in the free agency and trade markets as David Kahn suggested last week they'd be.

Signing Jamal Crawford would definitely be more than a prune or tweak.

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